Nordstrom Inc.’s inaugural manager for its new St. Johns Town Center store enthusiastically told nonprofit leaders Thursday evening that it was just 90 days before the opening gala, which she hopes will raise at least $90,000 for area causes.
“We were impressed with the impact these organizations have made,” said Brandy Jefferson, who was introduced earlier Thursday as the manager for the Seattle-based chain’s long-expected Jacksonville store.
Nordstrom chose Cathedral Arts Project, the Junior League of Jacksonville and Wolfson Children’s Hospital as beneficiaries of the Oct. 8 gala.
The gala precedes the Oct. 10 opening of the two-story, 124,000-square-foot Nordstrom, which will anchor a new wing of retailers at the Southside shopping center.
Jefferson’s appointment is a fitting position considering Nordstrom has been on her resume for 19 years.
At 16, she worked for the company in Spokane, Wash., for three days at its anniversary sale, running merchandise quickly from the fitting rooms back to the floor.
”I took it seriously,” Jefferson said Thursday afternoon during an interview at the Town Center. “From there, I put it on my resume.”
Jefferson, 35, is a career Nordstrom employee since graduating from college with a marketing degree. She came to Jacksonville a year ago as manager of the Nordstrom Rack at The Markets at Town Center. That store is near the full-line Nordstrom. Jefferson was promoted June 18.
”Our main goal is to start serving our customers and welcome them to the store,” she said of her team’s focus on opening the new store.
Nordstrom is hiring 400 employees to cater to customers with the noted Nordstrom service that focuses on each consumer’s needs.
Some customers might be in a hurry, know what they want and need to
complete business quickly. “They’re on a mission,” Jefferson said.
”Other customers will come in and spend hours, maybe the whole day,” she said.
Jefferson reminded the almost 100 people attending the Thursday evening cocktail party for the nonprofits that Nordstrom continues to seek applications at careers.nordstrom.com.
“We’re looking for people that love fashion. We’re looking for people who love to give good service,” she said.
On Oct. 10 and after, Jefferson intends to be on the sales floor to meet and assist customers and learn the needs and styles desired within the store’s customer base.
Town Center reaches regionally into South Georgia, West Florida and mid- to South Florida, although it also attracts national and international shoppers.
That reach could include clients of the Orlando Nordstrom the company will close Aug. 16. The store in the Florida Mall opened in 2002.
Jamie Nordstrom, president of stores for the company, said in a news release Thursday the store’s lease is up. To renew the lease, the company would need to make a significant investment in the store “so that we’re not offering our customers a substandard experience.”
Nordstrom said the closing affects about 190 non-seasonal employees. The company will try to find a spot for employees at other Nordstrom or Nordstrom Rack stores. Those who don’t take a job at another Nordstrom store and stay until their last scheduled shift will receive a separation plan.
Jefferson said at least 800 people have applied for the 400 Jacksonville jobs. The company also plans to relocate 25 department managers from other stores to the Jacksonville location so they can transfer the company’s culture.
The new full-line store will feature The Bazille Cafe and bar on the second floor, which will offer a full menu and a full bar, and the Ebar espresso bar coffee shop near the first-floor entrance.
Nordstrom’s buyers are reviewing the merchandise at stores in similar climates and areas to determine the initial mix for Jacksonville. The assortment is expected to range from affordable to designer wear. The Jacksonville assortment will be adjusted to meet customers’ needs and desires.
”Our first job is listening to our customers,” Jefferson said.
Jefferson was born in Seattle and grew up in Spokane. She earned a marketing degree from Frostburg State University in Maryland.
She started her professional career with Nordstrom at the Columbia, Md., store in 2000 as a salesperson and moved in 2001 to Boca Raton as a department manager. In 2004, she was promoted to store manager of the Nordstrom Last Chance store in Miami.
She served as manager of the Potomac Mills Rack store and the Dulles Town Center store, both in Virginia, as well as the Roseville Galleria location in California.
She and her husband, Scott, and their 17-month-old daughter, Samantha, live in Nocatee. Scott is a University of North Florida graduate. They moved to the area in August in preparation for the Nov. 7 opening of the Nordstrom Rack.
Having moved with her family — her father served in the U.S. Coast Guard — and Nordstrom, she has come to know more about Jacksonville.
”The Southern hospitality here makes it feel warm and inviting,” she said.
Nordstrom’s target customers are women ages 18-54, although the store carries a full line of clothing, shoes and accessories for all ages. Jefferson said when customers arrive, they will find five shoe departments, an extensive cosmetics area and clothing and accessories for men, women and children.
Nordstrom isn’t considered a department store because it does not carry hard goods, such as furniture, appliances or home goods. It is a fashion specialty retailer. While it doesn’t offer bridal or baby gift registries because it does not offer typical home goods or baby gear, it does offer a “wish list” service that operates similarly.
Nordstrom will open at 10 a.m. Oct. 10. Beauty makeovers will be offered at a “Beauty Bash” in the plaza starting at 8 a.m.
Customers who want to see the store before the grand opening have two options.
They can take a sneak peak at the lingerie department Sept. 27 for the “We Heart A Great Fit” event. Customers will receive a complimentary bra fitting and refreshments, and $2 from each bra purchased will be donated to the Jacksonville-based Donna Foundation, which raises money for women living with breast cancer. More details will be announced later.
The Oct. 8 gala will start at 7 p.m. in the store. Tickets are $75 a person. Nordstrom will underwrite that event so that all proceeds are given to the nonprofits. Tickets will be on sale in early September.
Gala patrons can shop that evening. There also will be food, drinks and entertainment.
The store will anchor a new wing of eight retailers at the southwest leg of the Town Center.
The open-air St. Johns Town Center, which has become the region’s major shopping destination, is in South Jacksonville at Butler Boulevard and Gate Parkway.
It’s been a decade since Jacksonville area consumers learned Nordstrom wanted to open in the area. Nordstrom announced its plans in September 2012, eight years after it first confirmed it was seriously looking at Jacksonville.
In Florida, Nordstrom operates full-line stores in Aventura, Boca Raton, Coral Gables, Miami, Naples, Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens and Tampa.
It has 10 Nordstrom Racks in the state and two more will open in October. The Rack stores sell Nordstrom goods at reduced prices.
Jefferson said Amanda Dyar was named manager of the Jacksonville Nordstrom Rack.
Nordstrom was founded in 1901 as a small Seattle shoe store. It operates in 36 states with 271 stores, comprising 117 full-line stores, 151 Nordstrom Rack locations and on Nordstrom.com and NordstromRack.com. It also has two Jeffrey boutiques, one clearance store and ships internationally.